Whit Merrifield continues hot start for Phillies with first spring training home run

The Phillies' new utilityman has looked good through his first two games of spring training Grapefruit League action.

Philadelphia Phillies utility player Whit Merrifield is off to a hot start in spring training
Philadelphia Phillies utility player Whit Merrifield is off to a hot start in spring training / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

The Philadelphia Phillies are now four games into their Grapefruit League schedule, and one of their biggest offseason signings is off to a hot start. Whit Merrifield, who the Phillies signed to a $7 million deal with an $8 million club option for 2025, is raking at the plate in his first two games of exhibition play.

Getting the start at second base on Monday, Merrifield was one of three Phillies players to homer in the contest. In the third inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox, Merrifield belted a two-run laser shot that struck the foul pole on the replica Green Monster in left field.

The Phillies would ultimately fall to the Red Sox 7-6, but the early returns on the 35-year-old's bat have been promising to watch in the early days of spring training. Merrifield now has two hits in six plate appearances so far.

Merrifield is ready for the challenges of being a super-utility player

When the Phillies signed Merrifield, his reputation as a professional hitter with exceptional versatility in the field was well-established from his time with the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays. While Merrifield has been a starter for the majority of his career, his time with the Blue Jays helped him understand what it takes to be a super-utility player for a major league ballclub.

After exiting Monday's game, Merrifield spoke about how he has learned to succeed in this type of role at this stage of his career.

"I've found that with my versatility, I find ways in the lineup, and if I'm playing well, I stay in the lineup," Merrifield said, per Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia. "It was a transition of trying to prove I'm a good player to a new team, but once I kinda hit that heater and got to show people what I can do, after that it was easy."

The three-time All-Star can already see that this is a battle-tested team with great built-in chemistry. Slated to spend most of his time in left field and second base in 2024, Merrifield is ready to embrace his role and contribute in any way he can.

"The energy in there [the clubhouse], the guys that are in there, they're in there for the right reasons, they're in there to get better everyday and work toward the end goal and that's winning the last game of the season," Merrifield said, per Seidman. "It's good energy. It's what I feel like more organizations need to be and that's coming into the year with the expectation to win the World Series. This organization is that. It's refreshing, it's nice to be a part of."

Whit Merrifield's hot start to spring training is a welcome sight for Phillies fans in late February. There's little doubt that Merrifield will be an important piece in a variety of roles for the Phillies this season as they try to make it back to the World Series and bring another championship home to Philadelphia.